I'd like to share some advice I've picked up as an emerging writer that has helped me feel more confident in creating and sharing my work. If you're in a similar position, I hope something here resonates and can help you write with a bit more ease.
Writing personal work can be the easiest and most difficult task for a writer. You know these stories, you know them intimately. However, that also puts a lot of weight on the subject matter. Working through personal experiences often means reliving past trauma, opening old wounds. Taking care of yourself and your mental health as you go through this is essential. When writing about something personal it is nice to be reminded that not all of the work you produce is for public consumption. Your writing is a body of work. Much like an artist will keep sketches or intimate drawings that feed into the creation of their final pieces, but never see the light of day, you are entitled and expected to keep some of your writing to yourself.
It is also useful to remember that your own relationship to your writing will change. If a piece was particularly draining for you to produce, my advice is to keep it in storage and forget about it for a few months. (Keep all of your writing. Save all your different drafts. You never know what you’ll wish you had saved in the future.) The next time you look it over, with fresh eyes, it may bring out a different set of emotions in you altogether. The work that is most emotionally charged is often also the most cathartic.
The most useful piece of advice on writing I ever heard was: "If you write, you are a writer." There is often so much mystique around the idea of being a ‘writer’. If you are unpublished or haven't shared much of your work, it can feel imposing to refer to yourself as such. But truly, if you write you are a writer. That is simply what the term means; it is not some great statement about your genius penmanship or literary prowess. It is simply the truth: you create something out of nothing using the written word.
As a writer, language is your tool. Each writer is going to have their own relationship with it. However, it is there to serve your work and make it possible for you to get your ideas across. Different ‘rules’ or conventions are useful to note and align with because they can help you get your message across — but if they're diluting your piece, toss them out without another thought. Your writing does not have to fit into any one style or form.
The most important thing, in my humble opinion, is that your writing speaks to you. The best comedians seem to be those who laugh at their own jokes. I believe the best writers are those who enjoy reading their own work. Read your own writing, re-read it with some frequency. Take pride in the fact that these words came from you, and most importantly keep writing.
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My name is Sofia Bitelli, I’m a writer and artist from Brazil currently living in the UK. I have a background in Art History and Studio Art and am now working towards an MA in Art & Politics at Goldsmiths University London. I am passionate about reading and writing, particularly poetry, personal essays and science fiction.